Russia votes in parliamentary election

Moscow:Voting began on Sunday to elect deputies to Russia's State Duma, the lower house of parliament, as well as to dozens of municipal and regional bodies, authorities said. The first polling stations were opened in the easternmost Kamchatka and Chukchi peninsulas at 8.00 a.m., RT News reported. More than 94,000 polling stations, including those in closed territories - military garrisons, prisons and hospitals, were open in Russia and 371 polling stations were open outside the nation in 145 countries. Nationwide voting will take about 22 hours as there is a 10-hour lag time between the Far East regions and the westernmost territory of Kaliningrad Oblast. In Russia, each person over the age of 18 is eligible to vote, except the prisoners and legally incapable persons. The total number of Russian voters amounts to 111.6 million with about two million of them living abroad. It is the first time the mixed principle has been used in elections to the State Duma since 2003, as in 2007 and 2011 Russians elected MPs from federal party lists only. This time, half of the parliament's seats will be occupied by deputies included on the federal candidate lists of parties which clear the 5 per cent threshold. The other half will be taken up by candidates elected according to a first-past-the-post system in each of the 225 independent constituencies or districts that together form the Russian Federation. Voter turnout in Russia's parliamentary elections in 2011 amounted to 60.2 per cent.  There will also be a new Russian Federation Council, the parliament's upper house, after Sunday's polls, Xinhua news agency reported. The new council will be made up of representatives of regional legislatures and executive bodies. The senators are delegated by regional parliaments and governors after the election.